Transcript, Popovich Brothers of South Chicago

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
A formal wedding portrait of an immigrant Serbian family in or around 1920.

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): You know Serbians say, "Ko peva, zlo ne misli" which means, basically, those who sing, know no evil. Which is ... well it’s a sense of being... it’s a sense of being free and open.

CHAPTER 2: PARTY IN A SERBIAN HOME.
The night before the big 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Popovich Brothers are just arriving at a private home where 50 or 60 family members and their friends are celebrating the occasion with song and dance. The second generation young men and women are dancing a kola to the music of the Lira Tamburitza Orchestra of Detroit, Michigan, which had come to Chicago for the Popovich Brothers testimonial.

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over); There were only four people in my immediate family, my parents, my sister, and I. But we were reared very much as brothers and sisters with our cousins. We got together a lot. We all did things together. We had picnics together, we celebrated holidays together, we did a lot of things together. So that you had an intimate relationship with a lot of your relatives and you wanted very much to be a part of that completely.

Photographs of workers housing in South Chicago in the 1920’s.

After all, when they first came here, their lives weren’t the greatest. They lived not in the best neighborhoods and they worked terribly hard under absolutely abominable conditions.

Live shot: a well manicured lawn is being mowed in front of a comfortable house in a middle class suburb of Chicago; the garage door of the house displays an elegant Bicentennial design.

And they couldn’t have achieved it without those songs, and without that, that great allegiance to music they had.

A group of men singing an old Serbian peasant folk song a capella at the party, "Ej, kad sam sinoc."

It’s a really good feeling to be able to sing like that, and to share it. You can be carried away, you know, you can just be carried away; you don’t have to care about a goddamn thing for two minutes in your life. And that’s a fantastic feeling.

Marko Trbovich in his Boston office.

As much relief as singing gives me in 1976, I can only imagine how much relief it gave my grandfather in 1914 when he came home from working in a mine for twelve or fourteen hours a day.

At the party, Marko finishes the round of songs with a self deprecating Serbian ditty, entitled "Kaput moj," (My Coat).

Marko Trbovich in his Boston office.

When a whole culture, as I’ve talked about it, is rooted in its passion for family life and its passion for music, and then suddenly you get a family that is both family and musicians, then you have something that is coincidentally very, very powerful to the people who take it in.

MAIN TITLE: THE POPOVICH BROTHERS OF SOUTH CHICAGO

CHAPTER 3: THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION FOR THE POPOVICH BROTHERS

In a huge banquet hall in downtown Chicago, twelve hundred family and friends of the Popovich Brothers are waiting for the brothers’ entrance into the hall.

Announcer: (Milan Panjatovich, a local restauranteur and an in-law of Marko Popovich): The celebration of the golden anniversary of the famous Popovich Brothers Tamburitza Orchestra. There are nearly twelve hundred of us here today, many of you coming from distant parts of the United States to honor Eli, Adam, Teddy, Mike, and we can’t forget our beloved Pete Mistovich who has really stuck with the boys.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Popovich Brothers!

The crowd erupts in cheering and singing. The Popovich Brothers enter the hall, accompanied by their wives or children, and take theirs places on the stage. The song "Ziveli," (To Life!), sung traditionally as a toast or tribute, swells up and fills the hall to honor the entry of the Popovich Brothers' father, Nikola, being escorted to the stage by his grandson and former major league pitcher, Eli Grba.

Former U.S. Congresswoman, Helen Delich Bentley of Maryland, whose family grew up down the street from the Popovich family during both families' days in a Western mining town.

I am particularly pleased to have been asked to speak here tonight at this tremendous Serbian outpouring of love to those men who have kept the spirit of Serbian music in the forefront in these United States these many, many years. Wild applause

A medley of Songs played by the Popovich Brothers

1. an instrumental, "Malo Kolo," which literally means "little kolo" and was traditionally the first kolo that the Popovich Brothers would play at church and organization social events. "Kolo" means circle.
2. Adam’s solo, called "Groktanje," a very old ditty comprised of nonsense verses, sung by Serbs hailing from Lika, a region of the military frontier in northern Serbia and what is now southern Croatia from which the Popoviches hailed, as well as the vast majority of families whom their offspring married.
3. Ted solos, then Marko plays a prima solo as a bridge

William Salatich, President, Gillette North American, reads the dedication on a plaque:
"In recognition of the contribution to Serbian culture made by the Popovich Brothers, Eli, Adam, Ted, Mike, Pete, and Pete Mistovich, I join with Bill Salatich and your many friends, in extending congratulations and best wishes. Signed, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States of America."

Applause. Bill Salatich passes out the plaques and shakes hands, then the Popovich Brothers and the Lira Tamburitza Orchestra start a spontaneous rendition of "Malo Kolo." The audience is on its feet, dancing a kolo.

CHAPTER 4: A SERIES OF NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS FROM "THE AMERICAN SRBOBRAN", A PUBLICATION OF THE SERB NATIONAL FEDERATION {SNF), AN INSURANCE SOCIETY, DETAILING SERBIAN COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES

CHAPTER 5: THE FUNERAL OF MARKO POPOVICH
Family and friends arriving outside St. Archangel Michaels Serbian church in South Chicago.

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over):
Marko was an ironworker all his life. But when he was playing his prima, you know, he was a whole different person than at any other time or any other moment that you could know him. He was a person who was inside you when he did that -- making you happy sort of from the inside out. And not many people get inside you. Very few get past the door of most people.

Adam and Eli help their father up the steps of the church.

BURIAL SERVICE AT THE CEMETERY
The late Robert Rade Stone, longtime president of the SNF: He was a good family man, a good husband, a good father, and a good grandfather. His home and his warmth was a Serbian home. Who taught our Serbian youth more about our Serbian history through songs than the songs that we learned so much from them, and brother Marko who played it so well. How many church, kola, choir, club leaders literally had their batteries recharged emotionally after being with the Popoviches and hearing him play, even for one night. He and his brothers were really the Serbian drummer boys on this continent. They were, and they are, and they shall be, really the Serbian feeling.

CHAPTER 6: AT A NEIGHBORHOOD BAR IN SOUTH CHICAGO, TEDDY POPOVICH and PETE MISTOVICH REMINISCE

I’m Ted Popovich. I have a wife by the name of Mildred. I have three daughters. Out go the names: Natalie, Doreen, and Danella. Natalie is married and has a boy and a girl... a boy about 19 and a daughter about 17. Doreen is not married. And Danella -- she’s the youngest -- she’s married and has a boy and a girl,... one is five and one is one year old. And I live at 111-10 Ave E in the southeast side of Chicago. For my livelihood I drive a beer truck, and up until a few months ago, I had a sideline playing in an orchestra called the Popovich Brothers. And I’ve been doing that for about 52 years. And I’ve enjoyed it all my life -- all of the work that it’s involved, and the entertaining -- and the enjoyment that it’s brought to other people. And I’ve brought up my children to believe in the songs and the tradition of the Serbian people. And now that their children are growing up, they are doing the same thing. In fact, my youngest grandchildren, the both of them, the one that’s five and the one that’s six, I was playing a record for her today from a record that we are just making now -- it’s going to be our sixth one -- and there’s a song in there that goes... something about Nicola, and right away she says, "Oh Deda, you’re singing that song for me, aren’t you?" Because her name is Nicole. And she really got a thrill out of it. She was dancing around the living room there and my grandson -- he’s only a year old -- he just stands in one place and bobs up and down as soon as he hears the music, and he keeps hollering, "Deda Deda Deda," because he recognizes my voice on the record.

A series of historical photographs of Serbians communities in the mining towns around the American west and southwest.

CHAPTER 7: ADAM POPOVICH, WITH HIS DAUGHTER ELAINE IN HER HOME.
Adam Popovich: It’s a feeling that is inherent from my childhood. When we were small they taught us Serbian. We knew how to talk Serbian before we went to school. We knew how to read and write Serbian before we went to kindergarten. We could write our names in Cirilica (Cyrilic). And the miners, as hard as they worked every day, every time they came home -- we had borders, we had kumovi and everything else -- the house was full every night and every night after supper, as tired as they were, they sang and we sang right along with them.

More photographs of miner; an early picture of Nikola Popovich with his wife and family

CHAPTER 8: TED POPOVICH AND PETE MISTOVICH
Teddy Popovich: My father came to this country very young. I think he came here in 1902 . He never went to school in Europe. He went to Germany for awhile and worked and made enough money with his oldest brother to come to America. He wanted to come to America. I think he first came into Pittsburgh and then got a job with the railroad. Then he was shipped out west into either tunnels,... he’s worked in tunnels... on the Moffat tunnel somewhere up in South Dakota or North Dakota. He worked in copper mines, coal mines, silver mines all through the years. After he had all of us children -- which he had up until about 1925, I think -- there were eight of us, and then we lost one, and then in a few more years we had a couple more and then there was ten of us -- there was five sisters and five brothers.

More photographs: the whole Popovich family (10 children); mining towns in the west

CHAPTER 9: ADAM POPOVICH, WITH HIS DAUGHTER ELAINE IN HER HOME
Adam Popovich: We used to go sit on a porch in Colorado after work on the skate. And all the kids in the neighborhood, well they’d sit all over the fence, sit all over the grass and we used to play off far into the night. Playing marches, playing waltzes, playing songs. So tambura to me, is a very close thing associated with the expression of the song from the heart.

Photograph: a formal portrait of a teacher and his tamburitza class of children.

CHAPTER 10: TED POPOVICH AND PETE MISTOVICH
Ted Popovich: My mother was always insisting that we do something better with the instruments. She loved to teach us kids to sing songs. And she loved the music herself. And she thought that the Serbian and Croatian people in America that hadn’t heard tambura for many years, that if we would travel through the west and play, they would get a chance to hear the music they hadn’t seen or heard probably since they left Europe.

Formal photographic portrait of the Popovich Brothers' mother, Ljubica.

CHAPTER 11: ADAM POPOVICH, WITH HIS DAUGHTER ELAINE IN HER HOME
Adam Popovich: My mother had a saying that always said "Hold on to your own, but respect that which is others’." And that’s an old Serbian saying, "drshtoje svoje, poshtuje tvoje," poshtuje meaning respect.

CHAPTER 12: TED POPOVICH AND PETE MISTOVICH
Ted Popovich: We went through the whole west. We went through Colorado, we went into Wyoming, then we went into Nevada ,and from Nevada we went down into California. And from California we up the coast to Oregon and Washington and back into Idaho and down back through Montana.

A series of portraits of the Serbian-costumed young Popovich Brothers on tour in the west.

So, after we came home, my mother says, "Well now you’ve traveled through the west, now go east," she says, "That’s where all the Serbian people are, she says, and try to do something for yourselves there." Because she was always after us to better ourselves in one way or another, you know, and she thought the music would give us a start.

A series of individual portraits of Adam, Eli, Teddy and Marko; street scenes of Chicago’s steel mills; interiors of steel mills.

So when we came to Chicago we found out that this area was centrally located, close to Milwaukee, close to South Bend, where there were Serbian colonies. And we stayed here. My mother and father -- we sent for them and told them that there were jobs here. If we couldn’t get a job here in Chicago, we couldn’t get one nowhere. So, I went into the steel mill as a laborer. And my brothers Eli and Adam they started off I think at U.S. Steel, as painters -- you know, painting bridges and stuff like that.

Photograph: The Popovich Brothers playing at a picnic.

And our first playing job was 1929 in November the 8th, I think, when the Serbians built a new church in Joliet and they dedicated it that day and that was our first playing job. And from then on, we, we were booked quite solidly, weekends all the time.

A progression of professional portraits of the Popovich Brothers, from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.

CHAPTER 13: ADAM POPOVICH, WITH HIS DAUGHTER ELAINE IN HER HOME Adam Popovich: You know about as much about the future of Popovich Brothers right now as I do. I know Ted’s whole life has been singing and it would be a big tragedy if he decided to stop singing just like that. So, I imagine we will try to do something, but what I still don’t know. There’s not a primash that can stand in Mike’s shoes for playing. There’s not a primash with a voice like his who could stand in for the singing. So, you see that’s a almost a triple jeopardy.

A series of portraits of the Popovich Brothers playing in the 60’s; live shots of South Chicago’s steel mills and streets in winter, 1976.

CHAPTER 13: IN THE CHURCH BASEMENT, ADAM POPOVICH SETTING UP THE CHAIRS FOR THE CHOIR REHEARSAL
Ted Popovich (voice over): You know when Marko died, it was a big jolt to all of us. And my brother Adam -- he couldn’t see coming back so soon. But this here concert... we had committed ourselves to doing it with the Milwaukee group. And he wrote all the music from a record that he had of this "Albanska Golgotha". All of this within... what it is now, three weeks? And he’s worked day and night with the choir. He’s had us rehearsing, and he’s just tired. He’s just beat right now. In fact, he said he’s got stomach trouble already, from so much...

Adam Popovich rehearsing "Albanska Golgotha" with "Sloboda", the choir. (1)

Adam Popovich (voice over): In my generation, it wasn’t very hard to tell a person what you feel in this song or something. But, it’s a little bit harder now. As I said, they hear that many American songs, more than a hundred to one... you are listening to rock and roll music and different kinds of music all day long. And the kids come down only once a week. And still it’s a magnificent thing that they are doing that.

Adam rehearses the women’s parts.

CHAPTER 15: ADAM POPOVICH, WITH HIS DAUGHTER ELAINE IN HER HOME
Adam Popovich: Well, I’m going to stay but I don’t know how long. There’s one reason, (pointing at Elaine’s children), here’s another... there’s one reason down at my father’s house. Teddy is another reason. My grandchildren are another reason, whether they come into the choir or not. She told me her son doesn’t have an ear, which is a disappointment to me, but that’s a thing of nature and I don’t know whether it’s true or not. But those are the reasons, the friends and the relatives. And if it weren’t for them, you know darn well I wouldn’t have come back for this concert either, because... well don’t ask me any more about that.

CHAPTER 16: WOMAN CHOIR MEMBERS PREPARING LUNCH FOR THE MILWAUKEE CHOIR IN THE CHURCH KITCHEN
Sloboda choir member Evelyn Basica: We have a different choir in the spring and a different choir in the fall. And this is our spring concert, so Milwaukee -- since they are in conjunction with the "Albanska Golgotha" -- is singing with us. So this is how we meet everybody all over the country. I have people doing this and people doing that and I have to figure out how much I think I need. And like this is guesswork too. You think you’re going to have a hundred and fifty people but I might have a hundred. This weekend, the Milwaukee choir is our guest, and of course many of our members are housing people, and they have to work at home too. But still and all, the members pitch in. Then we ask friends of the choir, but it’s usually mostly choir members. Dragina, you’re our housing chairman, is all the housing taken care of?

Sloboda choir member Dragina Krajac: Well, just about. I mean we had a whole list and all of a sudden behind our backs, four people went off the list, without even telling us, which is bad. And within the four there were twelve guests involved. And we have to find rooms for another twelve, and so we keep passing that list, Tuesday after Tuesday, Thursday after Thursday, hoping that you get more on that list. But I think everything will work out alright.

More Milwaukee guests file into the hall and are met with hugs, while a young tamburitza orchestra, comprised of children of the choir members, plays a kolo for a group of young women.

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): One of the great things about being in choir was going on trips. Everybody would get on the bus together, travel to another city like Cincinnati or Kansas City and you’d get there and you’d have breakfast with the people, and then they’d take you into their homes, and then you’d dance kolas with them, and you’d go to church with them, and you’d rehearse with them, and then you’d sing together, and that would pull the whole thing together.

CHAPTER 16: ADAM REHEARSING "HEJ TRUBACU" WITH BOTH CHOIRS AND TAMBURITZA ACCOMPANIMENT

CHAPTER 17: THE CONCERT, IN GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
Sloboda choir member Robert Anderson: Today, Sloboda and the Serbian Singing Society Stevan Sijacki of Milwaukee will present a joint concert of liturgical and folk music. It is our first of three performances prepared in tribute to America’s bicentennial celebration.

The two choirs sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", then "Albanska Golgotha".

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): You know, although there have been times when our people weren’t treated so well in this country, they’ve always been grateful for America, because nobody in this country ever told Serbians you can’t sing Serbian songs. And for that they’re grateful.

Series of newspaper clippings from "The American Srbobran" celebrating the American Bicentennial.

Choirs sing "Svatovac," The Wedding Song, with two soloists, Dan Dopudja and Robert Anderson. Tremendous applause.

Announcer (Robert Anderson): I would like to thank you all for being a wonderful audience and invite all of you back to our hall this evening for a dance. And we’ll have music by the Dunav Tamburitza Orchestra. Once again, thank you singers, thank you Adam, thank you Mr. Musial, thank you Miss Wallace, thank you everybody, thank you, thank you, thank you.

CHAPTER 18: THE DANCE IN THE CHURCH BASEMENT AFTER THE CONCERT -
Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): When you were 19 and 20 years old, you know, there were those great moments where you lived, and I can still remember them very very clearly. You lived from Saturday night to Saturday night in Serbian hall, and those were the largest moments in your life. And that defined the universe in which you lived.

A live shot of St. Archangel Michael’s Church, framed against an elevated freeway.

You didn’t consider those things. I mean, you didn’t sit around and self-consciously think about "God I have to get into the choir to be a part of the community."

Marko Trbovich, in his office: It was much more natural than that. It was an evolutionary process. That’s what people did. And people, with a capital "P", were the people you knew, and those people were Serbian-Americans for the most part. So you did what they did, and in my case, enjoyed it a lot.

CHAPTER 19: ADAM, ELI, TEDDY AND PETE MISTOVICH SINGING AROUND THE KITCHEN TABLE
Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): Singing was a part of the family’s life as a whole. We would sing all those songs in two and three parts and we learned to harmonize when we were young and it was fun.

The brothers, a little rusty, work through some old songs: Adam helps Teddy find the right key for an old Serbian song from Bosnia; then they try "Kafu mi draga, iz petsi," a contemporary Serbian melody in which a reveler attempts to entice his loved one to bed by asking her to bring him coffee (implicitly to sober up).

As they sing, Deda wanders in wearing pajamas.

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): Adam was the conductor of the world, you know, until you were old enough to know there were other conductors. We used to have an old upright piano that my father bought at some point, and he used come in and play the piano every Monday night on their way back from shopping... almost every Monday night. So that, his music and his love of music always had a very profound effect on me. And it’s not always an effect that’s easy to deal with because the times are so different now than they were then. And you have to make some choices.

Marko Trbovich, in his office: I couldn’t exist in Chicago or Detroit or Pittsburgh doing the kind of work I do, which is political consulting, media consulting, mostly with political candidates and public interests groups. Well, Boston’s a highly politicized place and not too far from Washington, and you can survive doing that in Boston. So here you are between two worlds, you know. You’re between sort of an ancient culture and a very contemporary one. And I think it causes... I know it causes me to live in a kind of cultural schizophrenia, you know.

CHAPTER 20: A SERBIAN TENNIS TOURNAMENT IN A LOCAL PARK

A doubles game proceeds on the courts as a young tamburitza group plays on the sidelines, led by Nick Roknich, whose father was president of the St. Archangel Michael church for many years. Ljubi and Bato Hayden sit on the ground and talk with us. (Ljubi is the daughter of Sophie Ostoich, one of the Popovich sisters.)

Bato Hayden: Well this tournament actually is for the younger kids, because tennis is an up-and-coming sport, just like soccer. They started a soccer tournament about three or four years ago and each year they get a new team and a new team. But it’s something in the summer. I think it’s more or less like an interlude between a get together like after the golf tournament and the next one is the bowling tournament. So there is something in-between that can... really it’s an excuse... it’s an excuse to party. It doesn’t matter if you have a marble tournament, you’re going to get Serbians to come.

Ljubi Hayden: That’s right, I agree.

Bato Hayden: You know, everything is supposed to be taken seriously in sports, but here... with basketball it’s the same thing. You have musicians on the basketball court, or in a bowling alley.

Ljubi Hayden: Why?

Bato Hayden: Because Serbians enjoy it.

Ljubi Hayden: Because you have to hear music. Serbians have to hear music all the time.

Bato Hayden: It’s in their blood.

Ljubi Hayden: That’s probably it.

Bato Hayden: It’s in their blood.

Ljubi Hayden: You know, if you were to come out here and play tennis all day -- you know, you were in the tournament -- and you’d say, "where is the orchestra?" That’s the comment, you know, "When’s the orchestra coming?" It’s the core of the whole thing. That’s the core of the whole thing: your bar, your orchestra, and people around it with a drink in their hand. It’s just a very social thing... the music just makes it.

I’m Ljubi Hayden -- actually Leslie, but I never use Leslie. I’m married to Bato. We’ll be married five years September 25th and we have a little boy Milan who’s named after my father, and he’s two and a half. And we live in Dolton. We have a house. We’ve been there now about a year and a half. And I’m a substitute teacher in the Chicago public schools, and I’m also a mother, and I’m a wife. I’m a wife and a mother first, and then I’m a substitute teacher. How did we meet?

Bato Hayden: The first time I met Ljubi was in Milwaukee at the basketball tournament. My buddy was talking about these girls from Chicago and I said ok. So we went to the basketball tournament that year in Milwaukee and he introduced me to Ljubi. And that was the first time I met her, about ’64.

Ljubi Hayden: Go ahead, say why you didn’t,...why you weren’t… go ahead.

Bato Hayden: So, yeah she was beautiful but she has heavy legs, you know. I’m a leg man.

Ljubi Hayden: He always tells me that. He always tells me that.

Bato Hayden: And I’m a leg man. So, you know, right away that didn’t start the program off too good.

Ljubi Hayden: Well, I always thought of him as being one of the most sincere people that I ever knew. There was nothing phony about him. And he was very Serbian. He felt the same things that I did. He felt the same things about dancing, about singing, about... when you have a family, how you want to bring your family up, what you want them to be exposed to. And that’s, I think, the main attraction. The first thing that I said was "Bato, you know, we have so much in common, our feelings about things."

A photograph of Ljubi, age 4, in a Serbian costume; a class picture from elementary school.

And that was it, really. Because it’s so much of our life. It’s always been a part of my life. I know when I was a little girl, at school they would say, "what are you?" I would never say anything but, "I’m Serbian." And later on I heard you’re supposed to say you were American first. But it was never like that with me. I was always a Serbian-American. Although I don’t speak Serbian and I can’t read Serbian, I understand it. That, and then there was kola dancing. We had a kola group. And choir... of course choir. I was in Junior Choir and then Sloboda. Boy, when you turned 16 and could join Sloboda... that was the thing. Why? I don’t know... just the joy of singing, I would imagine. Of course when you’re 16 it was taking trips and getting to meet Serbian boys in other communities. You know, that was the big deal. But singing was the most part. Getting a Serbian costume and being able to stand with the big Slobodas instead of singing with the junior choir all the time... that was a big part of it. And that’s why I think it’s so much of our lives, because it’s always been. And then there was our house, and being that my parents and our family lived with Deda, everything was focused on our house. When the family came, they came to our house and when it was Slava, it was at our house. And it was just an every day thing.

CHAPTER 21: ADAM, ELI, TEDDY AND PETE MISTOVICH AT THE KITCHEN TABLE, SINGING "UZO DEDA SVOG UNUKA," TO DEDA, A SONG IN WHICH A GRANDFATHER, PLAYING A GUZLA, AN ANCIENT STRINGED INSTRUMENT, RECOUNTS TO HIS GRANDSON THE HEROISM OF THE SERBS WHO RESISTED FIVE CENTURIES OF OTTOMAN OPPRESSION.

Ljubi continues (voice over): The house. There’s something in that house that can never be duplicated. I don’t know why.

Back at the tennis tournament:

It’s a very hard thing to answer. Maybe there are new ways... but there is a feeling in that house... I don’t know.

A newspaper clipping: "Nikola Popovich dies".

CHAPTER 22: THE FUNERAL OF NIKOLA POPOVICH

A series of B/W photographs of the community gathering outside St. Archangel Michael’s Church; the funeral service in the cemetery.

CHAPTER 23: WITH SOPHIE OSTOICH, A POPOVICH SISTER, IN HER KITCHEN
Sophie Ostoich: I think that my children got a lot out of living with my father. He was easy to get along with. He never bothered. He never interfered. He had a beautiful sense of humor. I probably didn’t know it at the time, but I think we were drawing from him all the time. I think he made us all strong. And I don’t know if we knew that was happening.

Live shots of South Chicago’s mills, old houses, commercial streets.

It was kind of... he just kept things together. He kept an unseen hand, always kind of pulling it in, you know, keeping it moving. We lived a very sheltered life. We lived on an island. I think sometimes as I look at it, we still do, because we’re different. And I guess it all goes back to the church and the heritage. It’s all tied into that island. Sure it’s changed. But I think that the kids... they still carry out what traditions we always had when we were kids. I think they’re richer for it. Why, I think if they weren’t they would have dropped it. And so far it’s been holding pretty good.

CHAPTER 24: THE POPOVICH FAMILY CELEBRATES ITS SLAVA IN THE BASEMENT OF ST. ARCHANGEL MICHAEL’S CHURCH. (2)

Popovich family members arrive and greet each other with hugs.


Narrator, Marco Trbovich (voice over): Slava is a very personal holiday. It’s your holiday, your family’s holiday and you celebrate it with your family, in a very holiday atmosphere. It’s probably descended from totems and tribal rites but it has been preserved through all those years and therefore it is all the more personal, and it’s customs are made personal... shared customs among the family.

At a long table, Father Velimir Kovacevich is blessing the Slava breads. He cuts each in quarters, wets each with four drops of wine, kisses the bread and offers it to each of the male members of the family. He chants in Serbian, then in English:

Father Vel: In honor and commemoration of St. Nicholas the wonder worker, we offer, oh Lord, this offering, beseeching that it be acceptable upon thy most heavenly altar, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is among us. He is and shall remain

The entire Popovich family arranges itself for a portrait. The photographer makes them wait until everyone is ready... then, a freeze, and then a click. Soon, the entire Slava bursts into the refrain of a verse of Groktanje, the age-old style of singing from the Lika region of the military frontier. The singing segues into "Iz kamena," another peasant folk song from Lika.

Adam Popovich (voice over): I hope my grandchildren grow up to be good people. And if they can be Serbs, I’ll be all the happier. But if they should lose it, that will not be the biggest breaking point in my life. I am not living for Serbianism only. It’s a part of my life and while I’m living, it’s going to be a part of my life until I’m gone. And if somewhere along the line it doesn’t catch, there’s no reason to panic about that.

Marko Trbovich sings a verse of "Oj Morava," a traditional folk song of Serbia that characterizes the beauty of life in the valley of the Morava River, and is joined in the refrain by the entire extended Popovich family.

CHAPTER 23: A SERIES OF NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS FROM THE "SRBOBRAN" NEWSPAPER DETAILING THE ONGOING INTEGRATION OF SERBIANS INTO AMERICAN POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL LIFE.

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): It’s happened. Serbs have been economically integrated into the American mainstream. Bill Salatich is the president of Gillette North America. You know, there are Serbian baseball players. Pete Maravich is a Serbian, you know. They are as integrated as a small ethnic group can be into American life.
CHAPTER 26: THE 1978 SERBIAN NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION AT KOJO'S BAR, ONE OF THE MANY WATERING HOLES IN IRONDALE, THAT PORTION OF SOUTH CHICAGO LOCATED HARD BY THE WISCONSIN STEEL MILL (NOW COMPLETELY SHUTTERED). (3)
The Popovich Brothers, along with 17 year old Bobby Lalich, are entertaining the crowd with "How Do You Do, Everybody, How Do You Do", then "Hail Hail! The Gang’s All Here".

Narrator, Marko Trbovich (voice over): I don’t know if it’s going to go. About 20 years ago, people were saying it was going to be gone by now. And I don’t see that happening. It’ll just change. And it has changed. And it’ll change some more.

A long, live shot of the South Chicago church at dusk.

But it’s here.

Back in the bar, the Popovich Brothers take up "Ima tel i pari"), then "Ja sam ja zelim ja."

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CREDITS

Funders: the NEA, the AFI, Illinois Arts Council